Tusiata Avia’s book The Savage Coloniser and the adapted theatre production received $107, 280 from Creative NZ. Taxpayers funded a project that fantasises about violently killing people on the basis of their skin colour.
While the book is claimed to focus on James Cook as an historical figure, the poetry explicitly references his “descendants” and other men of his ethnicity; “men like [him]”. Avia’s other work includes harmful generalisations including equating the Christchurch terrorist with all of those who share his ethnic roots.
We have written to Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage Hon Carmel Sepuloni and Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon regarding the matter, but it seems they are hoping the story will simply fade away.
Although we have urged them to take action and treat this racism as seriously as they would if any other race were being targeted, Meng Foon is sticking his head in the sand and intends to dodge any calls for him to take action.
Here is a copy of the letter we sent to Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon:
To ensure politicians and public servants do not just sweep this under the carpet, we are planning to get our letter published in newspapers across the country.
And here an excerpt of Avia's poetry that gives you the gist of the tone:
we’re driving round
looking for ya
or white men like you
who might be thieves
yeah, or any of your descendants
or any of your incarnations
cos, you know
We’re gonna F… YOU UP.
and a car full of brown girls
we find you
on the corner
of the Justice Precinct.
You’ve got another woman
in a headlock
and I’ve got my father’s
in my fist
and we’re coming to get you